An RTI activist in Bahraich was allegedly beaten to death by the village pradhan and his relatives on Saturday for reportedly seeking information on development work in the village under the Right To Information Act.
Police have arrested the main accused, Hardigaura’s pradhan Triloki Nath Dubey, while his brothers Ghanshyam and Vijay Shankar, and sons Sushil, Neeraj and Narendra — all of whom have been named in the FIR — are absconding.
Fifty-year-old Guru Prasad Shukla was a worker of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and had contested the panchayat election against Dubey last year but had lost, an official said.
SHO, Hardi police station, Shiv Prasad Yadav said Dubey arrived at Shukla’s house with his relatives around 4.45 am and started beating Shukla, who was sleeping outside. Shukla’s two wives, Brij Rani and Suman Devi, who live together, and his son Vijay (12) and daughter Rinki (14), came outside to intrevene but they, too, were beaten up and sustained injuries, the SHO added. After the accused left Shukla in an unconscious state, he was rushed to the hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
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Primary investigation has revealed that the village pradhan was upset over Shukla’s RTI applications seeking development work in Hardigaura. For the panchayat elections scheduled to be held by the end of this year, Shukla had emerged as “a strong opponent”, locals told police.
Shukla’s nephew, Suresh Pathak, later alleged that the police “ignored the family’s call informing them of the attack”, saying “the local police were hand-in-glove with the assailants”. The SHO, however, denied receiving any such call.
Superintendent of Police, Bahraich, Neha Pandey said an inquiry would be conducted into the allegation against the SHO and action will be taken if his laxity is proved.
District Magistrate, Bahraich, Abhay said Shukla had filed his last RTI six months ago. According to the villagers, Shukla’s “enmity” with Dubey had a long history but the police do not know “the exact reasons behind the rivalry”.
Block Development Officer, Maji block, Mohammad Nafees said that in one of his many RTIs, Shukla had sought information over the construction of toilets in Hardigaura and the amount spent on the project.
AAP’s convener in Bahraich Santosh Kumari Rastogi said Shukla was an active member of the party. The AAP has demanded compensation for the family and action against the policemen